Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
The growing prevalence of feminist and queer science fiction in the 1970s and 80s allowed for the creation of queer subjectivities that defamiliarized the heterosexual paradigm dominating 20th century U.S. culture. Specifically, this marked a moment in science fiction when authors began to imagine a spectrum of ontologies and sexualities which I consider to be posthuman. For Alice Sheldon, a.k.a. James Tiptree Jr., the short stories “The Girl Who Was Plugged In” (1973), “A Momentary Taste of Being” (1975), and “With Delicate Mad Hands” (1981), show how heterosexism and the commodification of female bodies are perpetuated by enduring patriarchal hegemonies; however, Tiptree’s posthuman figurations offer a potential transcendence from heteronormativity, even if they cannot quite escape the confining nature of the patriarchy. In Joanna Russ’s The Female Man (1975), the posthuman presents a dismantling of gendered metanarratives and capitalistic structures, leading to a blending of ontologies that hints towards a new understanding of subjectivity. Ultimately, Tiptree and Russ’s science fiction propels a vision of the future where the barriers that separate humans from nature, machines, and each other are deconstructed, leading to not only a critique of heteronormative sexuality and gender, but also a challenge of what it means to be human in our contemporary epoch.
Gardner, William, ""Fantastic Anger" ― Tiptree, Russ, and the Making of the Queer Posthuman" (2019). Honors Theses. 233.